Key Issues > Toxic Chemicals - High Risk Issue
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Toxic Chemicals - High Risk Issue

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) faces long-standing challenges assessing and controlling the risks associated with toxic chemicals.

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This key issue page is related to an area on GAO’s 2017 High Risk Update and will be updated shortly. In the meantime, visit the related High Risk area for the newest information.

Tens of thousands of chemicals are currently in EPA's chemical inventory and an average of 1,500 new chemicals are introduced into commerce each year. EPA conducts chemical toxicity assessments under its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) program and is authorized under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to obtain information on the risks of chemicals and control those it determines pose an unreasonable risk. Obtaining adequate scientific information on chemical toxicity and exposure levels and completing timely, credible chemical toxicity assessment have been long-standing challenges for EPA. Such assessments are the cornerstone of scientifically sound environmental decisions, policies, and regulations under a variety of environmental statutes, such as the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Air Act. Because EPA had not developed sufficient chemical assessment information under these programs to limit exposure to many chemicals that may pose substantial health risks, we added this issue to the High Risk List in 2009.

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High Risk: Transforming EPA's Process for Assessing and Controlling Toxic Chemicals
  • portrait of Alfredo Gomez
    • Alfredo Gomez
    • Director, Natural Resources and Environment
    • gomezj@gao.gov
    • 202-512-3841